The Lego Movie


Viewed – 11 February 2017  online rental

I thought I’d finally get around to this popular and highly regarded animated movie following the current hype for the newly released Lego Batman Movie.  Now I must say despite being a big fan of animation, the style and concept of animated Lego characters didn’t exactly appeal and I think I only played with Lego bricks fleetingly as a child.  However having played bits of various Lego videogames and hearing a lot of good things about this movie – I thought I’d give it a chance.

Emmet and Batman

A nobody construction worker named Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) dreams of fitting in, having friends and enjoying life, but quickly realises most of his fellow workers ignore him because there’s nothing ‘special’ about his personality.  One day following an incident at the construction site, Emmet stumbles upon a mysterious girl who catches his eye, then discovers a grand scheme involving a sacred relic and a megalomaniac President that might be his chance to become a ‘somebody’.  This is fun, energetic and entertaining from the off and a clear satire of our growing superficial, social-media obsessed society and it’s focus on annoying EDM music as well as an obvious stab at our current political climate (with an eerie prediction of Trump).  It’s not quite as sharp or as funny as I was expecting and is surprisingly light on pop-culture jokes or references other than appearances from various comic book and movie characters.  Therefore, there’s not a great deal here for adults, unlike other animations.  That being said it zips along at an almost exhaustive pace and throws plenty of action and spectacle meaning I was far from bored.  A twist towards the end also turned the movie into a more heart-warming experience than up to that point I’d been lead to believe.

With memorable voice work from Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson and Will Ferrell amongst others … this was still fun, but for me no animated classic.

Verdict:  3 /5

Last Vegas


Viewed – 05 March 2015  Netflix

I like how Hollywood occasionally dusts off some of our older veteran actors and throws them together in one movie.  When it works it can work well (Bucket List, The Heist) and when it doesn’t it can be uncomfortable (The Expendables).  Thankfully this is the former.  Marketed as kind of a senior citizen version of The Hangover we have Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline as life long friends who come together to go on Michael Douglas’s bachelor party in Vegas.  You see much like Douglas in real life, he has a young girlfriend who he plans on marrying, but at the same time there’s some unresolved issues between him and DeNiro that a weekend together may just bring up again.

last vegas

This is enjoyable stuff.  It has some good observations of getting older, life and love and is actually rather heart-warming.  It sensibly avoids the toilet humour adult comedy of the aforementioned Hangover, and as these guys are a bit fish out of water, they naturally look awkward attending clubs and chatting up the scantily clad girls…but then that’s kind of the point.  This does have some good jokes (most at Douglas’ expense) and several great sight gags, and works best when the four seasoned actors are sparring off against each other.  Mary Steenburgen appears as a love interest and helps this movie develop a bit more meaning and depth than it might have.  Director Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) has played his cards well, and treats the actors with respect whilst still poking a little fun at the situation.  DeNiro is especially good as the grumpier of the foursome yet each actor gets a moment in the spotlight and goes on a bit of a journey.

It’s predictable in places and rather cringy at times, but never out stays it’s welcome.  I’d have swapped the casting of Kline for someone on the same level as the others (sorry) … yet overall, this still worked very well.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

Lucy


Viewed – 26 August 2014  Cinema

I went into this a little bit apprehensive.  For a long time now it seems I have waited for director Luc Besson to wow me again, at least on a par with his sci-fi opus The Fifth Element, even if I wasn’t quite expecting something as genre defining as Leon.  This director who in recent memory has stuck to producing and writing credits, has failed to really get his mojo back.  The trailer to this latest offering however held promise.  It had current hot property Scarlett Johansson in it, and had all the high concept cool I had grown to love about Besson’s work.

lucy_movie_02_edited

Johansson plays Lucy, a seemingly ordinary girl with a few suspect friends, staying in Taiwan who gets unwittingly involved with a group of gangsters, headed by Old Boy star Choi Min-sik.  Before she realises what’s going on, she’s drugged and wakes up in a hotel room, quickly discovering a bandage around her mid section, and is informed she will be a human courier for an experimental drug that has been concealed inside of her(!).  However shit goes down as it normally does and soon Lucy is feeling the affects of this drug that begins to open her brain to greater than normal ability, gifting her with various super-human powers like telekinesis and the ability to transform her hair colour … to start with.

This is flashy, stylish and very much a fun ride for Johansson and it’s clear Besson loves the concept.  Johansson captures vulnerability, bad-ass toughness and out of control mania with ease, whilst delivering some very cool action ‘beats’ along the way.  Morgan Freeman is also on hand as a scientist, but doesn’t really do much out of type for him.  Stand-out moments involve a great car ride (I won’t say ‘chase’) and some trippy special effects (Lucy seeking out a telephone call by weaving her hand through the various phone signals), and that bit in the airplane toilet … wow.  However this was also a concept begging for restraint, needing the breaks applied now and then (I really wanted more of Lucy kicking ass) but Besson instead applied the accelerator and in the closing moments – it got pretty insane.  Choi Min-sik in his first American movie may lack any English dialogue but still had presence to spare … with a great entrance suitable to his legacy. 

This was very enjoyable despite shortcomings (why was Lucy chained up in that cell?), so for Scarlett Johansson fans and anyone after something a bit different – I say check this out.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

The Heist


Viewed – 08 July 2014  Netflix

Hmm, a pleasant surprise this.  As the highest voted entry on my recent poll, I was almost expecting this to be bad … sort of an ‘I dare you to watch this clunker!’ result, but then as the final credits rolled I realised – I hadn’t laughed or chuckled quite as much in a long time as I had watching this highly entertaining comedy.

maiden_heist1

Christopher Walken, Morgan Freeman and William H. Macey are security guards working at a museum, who discover they all have one thing in common -.their love of particular works of art.  For Walken, the haunting portrait of a lonely maiden, for Freeman a classic painting of a girl pouring milk for some cats, and for Macy a priceless bronze statue.  However on learning that their beloved pieces are due to be moved to a museum in Denmark, they hatch the unlikely plan of stealing the art for themselves.

I found this really enjoyable.  Three great actors, all of which I am a fan of, turning in excellent performances with many little quirks and old-age bumbling.  Walken’s over bearing wife, Freeman’s wealth of cats and Macy insistence on getting naked to pose with his statue at every opportunity.  It was a joy to just watch these complete working-class Joe’s try and pull off a painstakingly planned heist … with all the things that could go wrong etc.  Walken carries the movie well, even if like the other two, he comes across as a bit ‘odd’.  Also as a caper, it doesn’t add much to a well worn genre but for the over-the-hill casting.  Yet the comedy although gentle and innocent is right on the nail and I still had a great time.

Verdict:  4 /5

Poll closed


Well thanks to all that voted on the Netflix poll, and we have a winner!!

The Heist (2009) aka The Maiden Heist

I will be reviewing this movie in the next day or so, so look out for my verdict.  There were not a ton of votes but enough to make it worthwhile.  I hope to post more polls in the future.  I sort-of feel sorry for poor Hostel: Part III … not one vote!

Thanks again for participating!